It is a great privilege to be amongst distinguished thinkers and architects of the future we all co-create. Admitting worries for common good since contemporary world tensions and energetic crisis are colliding with humanitarian questions, we reflect assurance, decision. Hope.
That atmosphere is profoundly radiant in the great 15-century priory of green entourage and reflections of river Rhone one must admire. Scholars, thinkers, and diplomats gather in this prestigious surrounding. The Swiss University of Geneve is today designated as a profound establishment of dialogue, research, and political culture, inviting diversity and inclusion. University upholds privilege of exceptional keynote speakers of different backgrounds. Among them are former presidents, prime ministers, thinkers, Nobel prize laureates and other personalities with distinguished careers and experience.
Adding to his series, in early October 2022, prof. Anis H. Bajrektarevic conducted and moderated two distinguished days of fresh insights, noble ideas, and stamina by believing in the power of dialogue. Excellency Heinz Fisher, former Austrian State President, was the first guest. H.E. Fisher presented the narrative of WWII, primarily portraying his younger days at school:
“In my childhood, in primary school, we had to greet our teacher with “Heil Hitler” every morning. Can you imagine the climate of that era in most delicate youth?”, he stated.
President Heinz Fischer was born on 9 October 1938 in Graz, Styria, Austria. This young boy was brough up in detrimental Nazi dictatorship, while his parents, father as a civil servant, Esperanto teacher, opposer of contemporary political predominance, discussed the perils and horrendous consequences of sadistic Nazi regime only in Esperanto, what gave us just a blink of precepting the devastating times of that era. Why Esperanto?
“The totalitarian regimes are all blind for what is alive and spontaneous. A child is open. His testimony though innocence and truthfulness could send someone to working camps. It was dangerous to say anything against and Esperanto was revealing. And safe”.
On March 12, 1938, German troops marched into Austria to annex the German-speaking nation for the Third Reich. In early 1938, Austrian Nazis conspired for the second time in four years, to seize the Austrian government by force and unite their nation with Nazi Germany.
“This era was a time of darkness, spiritual suffering, and loss of common sense in the nation’s aspirations and hope. Inner light was dimmed. This great suffering was dormant in the previous phases after the collapse of Austro-Hungarian Empire and afterwards”.
H.E. Fisher argued the importance of historical and longitudinal line of data. Deepen knowledge of world events rebuilds and reshapes basic and grounding facts and angles the foundations from where one can estimate occurring consequences. E.g., creating stable national identity, retrenching all negative aspects of nationalisms, seems to be impossible without nascent phases of democratic development:
“Each phase of the process takes its own time. Without historic perspective and broader context, one cannot ever understand the present tendencies”.
Excellency Fisher spoke about major historic events, like 1st republic of Austria, which is essential to understand succeeding historical acts. After the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy on 30th October 1918, the provisional national assembly of German Austria elected a State Council (Staatsrat) executive, which itself appointed a state government with the Social Democratic politician Karl Renner as head of the State Chancellery with three main political parties—Social Democrats, the Christian Social Party (CS) and German Nationalists (Greater Germans). As acting executive body, it remained in office until the Constitutional Assembly of the Austrian Fist Republic on 15th March 1919.
From 5th March 1933 onwards, the Christian Social chancellor Engelbert Dollfuß continued to rule by suppressing the National Council parliament.
“In the course of the Austrian Civil War on 1st May 1934, the authoritarian Federal State of Austria was implemented. All political parties were banned, except for the Fatherland’s Front supporting Dollfuß’ Austrofascist government”.
As well Second Republic added the missing jigsaw and corelated some major events and historic figures, naming just few. Second Republic, where on 27th April 1945, a provisional Austrian national unity government was formed, with important datum 20th December 1945, when Austrian Constitution was officially re-enacted with ÖVP founder Leopold Figl, forming the first post-war Federal Government. Interesting is “The Victim Theory” (German: Opferthese), encapsulated in the slogan “Austria – the Nazis’ first victim”, which was the ideological basis for Austria under allied occupation (1945–1955) and in the Second Austrian Republic until the 1980s. According to the founders of the Second Austrian Republic, the 1938 Anschluss was an act of military aggression by the Third Reich. The “victim theory” formed in 1949 insisted that all the Austrians, including those who strongly supported Hitler, had been unwilling victims of the Nazi regime and were therefore not responsible for its crimes.
Austria, the “land that nobody wanted”, along the many years, aside pitfalls and victories in discourse and coordinated action, gained its neutral status in tangled historic context.
Austria is bound to neutrality by the 1955 Austrian State Treaty and its constitution, which prohibits entry into military alliances and the establishment of foreign military bases on Austrian territory. Austrian neutrality is an enforced neutrality.
“The territory of Austria was occupied by allied forces until 1955. In 1955 the Soviet Union, in the Moscow memorandum, demanded Austria’s neutrality on the model of Switzerland”.
All the countries with which Austria had diplomatic relations, ratified the Austrian State Treaty.
Today, in reinforcing the culture of dialogue, Austria is a special country with strong culture, music, literature, and profound history. Latest interest is also a great devotion of our guest.
President Fisher, lawyer and professor always admired history and his narrative is profound. Lectures gathered us in conscious awareness how to tackle subtle and deeply sensitive diplomatic questions, while reality is often yielding no traces of support, neither hint of solutions. What matters is integrity and character. And personal, private acolytes we meet on the paths, like colleagues, siblings, parents, and spouses, are indispensable. H.E. wife, First Lady Ms. Margit Fisher was gracing audience with her presence and kindness as well.
H.E. Fisher served his country for many years. He took office as 11th State President of the Republic of Austria on 8th July 2004 and was re-elected for a second and last term on 25th April 2010, leaving office on 8th July 2016.
Excellency Heinz Fischer studied law at the University of Vienna, earning a doctorate in 1961. Apart from being a politician, Fischer also pursued an academic career and became a professor of Political Science at the University of Innsbruck. After two terms as Federal President of the Republic of Austria and more than 40 years in public office, Heinz Fischer retired in July 2016 as Head of State and was succeeded by Prof. Alexander Van der Bellen.
Today H.E. Fisher is active in many boards and collaborates with vanguard crucial figures. As he already did in his early career days: “I am proud being a co-founder of Amnesty International Austria, and Editor of many magazines for Political Sciences”.
In January 2017 Heinz Fischer was named president to the Board of the Institute for Human Science and in August 2017 was appointed as co-chairman of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens.
Excellency Fischer wrote several books in the field of political science and contemporary history. He was among the first speakers under the auspices of so-called ‘Executive Master in Intl. Relations and Global Politics’. Lecture series will host current and former heads of states or government Nobel prize laureates, and other influencers in the world of politics, economy, security and energy.